France’s ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud, is a fan of 19th-century French painter Frédéric Bazille. But I had a confession to make when I spoke with him about the National Gallery’s “Frédéric Bazille and the Birth of Impressionism” exhibition. I said that I usually walk right past Bazille’s paintings and go straight to the impressionists — and I assume I’m not the only one who does that.
Araud understands, but says he likes Bazille for the opposite reason: The impressionists are so well-known, he says, “I’ve reached a point where I don’t look at them anymore.”
Those impressionists were also Bazille’s pals. National Gallery curator Kimberly A. Jones says Bazille “was very much part of that sort of charmed circle. Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley — he was right at the heart of everything.”
Bazille and his friends were young 20-somethings eager to make new marks